There’s a simple logic for why both the Jazz and Knicks want to finalize a Donovan Mitchell trade before training camp ideally, and certainly before the season begins (the Knicks remain the clear frontrunner to land Mitchell).
The Knicks want Mitchell to get as much time in the system and alongside their other new guard, Jalen Brunson, as possible before the season starts. For the Jazz, having Mitchell come to training camp creates a huge daily distraction — every day first-year coach Will Hardy will have to answer questions about Mitchell, fair or not. Then, once the season starts, the Jazz are looking to
tank position themselves in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, and Mitchell messes with that because he’s very good at basketball and wins games.
With the Kevin Durant trade drama over (for now), league focus has turned to the Mitchell trade and the Jazz want to get it done, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN on his Hoop Collective podcast.
“[Tim] MacMahon, you said, I believe last week, that you thought that the Jazz would make a Donovan Mitchell trade before the opener. And it sounds to me in talking to people around the league that the Jazz want to try to go even sooner than that. They want to go before training camp…
“It does sound as I talk to folks in the league that the Jazz are trying to apply the gas here. To try to juice the offer, especially juice the offer from the New York Knicks.”
Training camps start Sept. 26.
The Knicks are the clear frontrunners for Mitchell and reportedly offered five first-round picks (two unprotected), plus Obi Toppin and Evan Fournier for Mitchell. While there has been talk about whether RJ Barrett is in the deal, the reported sticking point is the Jazz want more unprotected picks (they got three for Rudy Gobert plus a fourth pick that is just top-five protected).
New York doesn’t need to up its offer because who else is out there? The Cavaliers have reportedly pulled out of talks, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.
Cleveland Cavaliers have removed themselves from Donovan Mitchell trade talks, per SNY sources. Doesn’t seem like there are any suitors at moment who can approach what Knicks can offer Utah – even if you take RJ Barrett off the table. So this trade is still NYK’s to lose.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) August 26, 2022
The Miami Heat are interested in Mitchell but can only offer two unprotected picks (potentially three if they work out lowered protections with the Thunder), plus a player package based around Tyler Herro. It’s a reasonable offer, but the Jazz likely value the Knicks picks more — Miami is a good team and a quality franchise that plays hard nightly and gets the most out of the talent on the roster. The Heat are never going to be terrible, making their picks less valuable. On the other hand, history suggests the Knicks’ picks — even if they have Mitchell on the roster — have the potential to be very good.
In the end, everyone around the league expects the Knicks and Jazz to work out a deal, the only questions are what it looks like and when it gets done? To the second question, that may be sooner rather than later.